One of the best times to visit Scotland’s capital city is during the festive season. The already beautiful architecture is lit up by the twinkling Christmas lights, Princes street becomes a bustling hub of busy shoppers with arms loaded full, and the city’s bars and restaurants are filled with merry revellers, enjoying an after work mulled wine!
In Edinburgh there is never a shortage of places to eat and drink over Christmas. Let us take the stress out of deciding where to go and let you in on some of our favourites. Here are 9 of the best places in the capital for a festive feast and a Christmas cocktail or two!
Warm wood fires and lots of craft beer on tap – what more do you need on a cold December evening? OX184 may be relatively new on the Edinburgh bar scene but it is already proving to be a hit with the locals. Don’t worry if the large selection of ale isn’t your thing, they also have a whole wall of single malts from all over the world. And it’s not just the drinks menu that entices the locals to gather here in the evenings (although it helps), OX184 attracts the crowds for its delicious food selection as well. At Christmas time in particular, this bar stands out for its alternative options to your traditional festive menu. Using their wood fired grill, OX184 serve up a whole host of warming dishes from Back Baby Ribs and Hickory Chicken, to Feta Quinoa salad and Haloumi Burgers. The best bit? Food is served until 2.30am! With live bands or DJ every night, this really is a great place to hang-out this Christmas.
184-186 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JJ
The Last Word Saloon, Stockbridge
This bar is the definition of cosy, full of mismatched rustic furniture, stag heads adorning the walls, and a well-stocked bar. Pull up a sumptuous leather armchair in front of the roaring fire and relax with friends and family while sheltering from the unpredictable Scottish weather. The Last Word is situated just a short walk away from the centre of town in Stockbridge, a neighbourhood of Edinburgh that feels more like a village than part of a capital city. Spend the day wandering around the Botanic Gardens or Inverleith Park and purchasing those last minute gifts from the wealth of independent boutiques, before retiring to The Last Saloon for a well-deserved refreshment. Owned by the same people behind the famous cocktail bar Bramble, the drinks menu at The Last Word Saloon is equally impressive. Expect warming winter concoctions and weird and wonderful cocktails.
44 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL
Ghillie Dhu, West End
Whether you go for the full 3 course dinner & drinks package followed by dancing, or are just there to enjoy the live music, the Ghillie Dhu offers the best entertainment for those looking for something traditionally Scottish. From their Friday night Burly Ceilidh clubs and Saturday night Gillie Gigs in the beautifully gothic auditorium, to the live music from local talent in the warming main bar, there is always something going on at the Ghillie Dhu. On any normal day you are guaranteed a great night at the Ghillie Dhu, but with added Christmas spirit (and huge Christmas trees), this place becomes something even more special. Just don’t be alarmed when a stranger buys you a dram of whisky towards the end of the night!
2 Rutland St, Edinburgh EH1 2AD
The Cameo Cinema, Tollcross
With showings of Elf, The Muppets Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker and A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve (not to mention regular Christmas Film Quizzes) the Cameo Cinema is a delightful place to be during December! This beautiful old-fashioned arthouse cinema in the south of the city is renowned for its showings of old classics and alternative films alongside the latest blockbusters. The accompanying Cameo bar is cosy and welcoming – perfect for a pre-movie warmer or a catch-up with friends, for those who enjoy more peaceful surroundings to busy city bars. Peaceful however, doesn’t mean dull, and with all the events at the Cinema during December, it’s a great place to escape the stresses of organising Christmas and actually enjoy some festive cheer!
38 Home St, Edinburgh EH3 9LZ
Monteiths, Royal Mile
Hidden away down a magical Old Town alleyway, Monteiths is just a short walk from the lively Royal Mile. Follow the candle lit path, go under the arched willow branches, down some age-worn stone steps, and there you will find this gem of a restaurant nestled away from the hustle and bustle. After the adventure to get there, you will be rewarded with contemporary décor with a Scottish twist, an impressive menu that tastes as good as it sounds, and plenty of innovative and great tasting cocktails. Not only that, but you are just a short walk (or stumble) away from your Old Town Chambers apartment! After you have spent the afternoon admiring the Street of Light on the Royal Mile and buying all the tartan scarves you can carry, let the fairy lights guide the way to this snug Christmas hideout for the perfect festive evening!
61 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR
The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street
This one is for the music fans! If you fancy something a little alternative this Christmas, head to the Jazz bar on Chambers Street. Not often does a venue manage to successfully be both bustling and relaxing at the same time, but the Jazz bar gets close. Always very popular on a winters evening, the Jazz bar attracts a mixed crowd who are all looking for laid-back but social entertainment. With a varied programme of jazz acts all through the week, warming décor and a brimming bar, the Jazz Bar has a great atmosphere. Over the festive period, their schedule gets significantly merrier with a number of ‘Christmas Jams’ taking place in December. Head down to enjoy some great music with friends at this buzzing little venue!
1A Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1HR
The Queens Arms, New Town
In this bustling bar in the centre of town, there is always a lot going on. Although The Queens Arms is a gastro-pub, this small bar is far from boring. The traditional central bar, beautiful library-esque décor, comfy leather armchairs, and the creative (and delicious) menu full of Scottish produce, makes the Queen Arms an out of the ordinary pub. The place is warm and inviting on cold winter evenings, and is always busy enough to ensure you have a pleasant evening. If you fancy a quieter experience, book for lunchtime – the lunch menu is equally as impressive. Check in this Christmas time as they will be making fresh batches of mulled wine everyday!
49 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1EP
Tower Restaurant, Chambers Street
After your visit to the National Museum of Scotland downstairs, head up the winding staircases to the rooftop Tower Restaurant. Spectacular views of the whole city (castle included) and beautifully creative Christmas décor, create the most luxurious and unique dinning environment during the festive season. Famous Edinburgh restaurateur, James Thomson, opened the Tower restaurant on St Andrews Day in 1998. Since then, the restaurant has become a must visit for anyone passing through the city. Marvel at the sparkling Christmas lights from this rooftop retreat whilst enjoying a sumptuous festive menu full of Scottish produce like West Coast Crab, Smoked Aberdeenshire goose, and Isle of Mull Cheddar.
National Museum Of Scotland, Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
The Dome, New Town
If you want a full on hit of Christmas, The Dome is literally the most obvious place to go during the festive season – you can’t miss it due to the excessive but beautiful decorations that adorn the building! You merely need to walk past its garnished pillars to catch a whiff of the festive orange scent wafting from inside. If you do venture inside this winter wonderland you won’t be disappointed once you enter – the festive cheer and outrageous décor continues into the main bar including a massive central Christmas tree. The festive menu is traditional but with plenty of choice for those who don’t enjoy turkey. For those who are just in for a drink, the setting couldn’t be more exciting. For something slightly more understated you can escape to the art-deco inspired club room, although be warned, you can’t hide completely from the festivities in the Dome! If you are a Christmas mega-fan, The Dome is the ultimate in festive adventures!
14 George St, New Town, Edinburgh EH2 2PF